Introducing Architecture Office

Quite a lot has happened in the past month or so.

I was invited to take part in the 2015 Ingenuity Fest “Iron Architect” competition and was also asked to find some other participants. I made some calls and was able to meet up with an artist and architect I have worked with in the past, Adam Rosekelly.

For the Ingenuity weekend we worked away in a shipping container during a rather wet, cold and blustery Friday and Saturday in both securing a workspace (a delightful container WITH electrical power) and designing/building a sculpture. The act of the design/build process was meant to be an exhibit within itself.

It was fun.

2015-10-04 15.39.53

More importantly, it made me realize something that I had really realized a while ago. I don’t like working by myself. To me design is a collaborative process, a conversation, between folks that share similar goals and can challenge each other through experience and point of view without being overbearing or passive aggressive about it. Adam and I have worked together for about 10 years either at architecture firms or on art installations. I guess what I am trying to say is that we are taking the plunge.

Our past experience in very different projects. I have focused on specialty commercial and institutional work (educational, performing arts, healthcare, masterplanning) and Adam has gained experience in the wide variety of residential and mixed use project types. There has been some overlap. Enough though that we can converse about different project type needs and requirements with some relative ease and this makes me very happy.

You see, I no longer have to run ideas past the cat. Instead I have someone I can share my process and ideas with and get some honest feedback and usually a new way of looking at the problem. I also have someone who will push me to market and talk to new people more, something I think I am miserable at.

So we started a new design firm together combining TOIstudio and FIELDS collaborative into one new entity. And we have a new name.

“Why a new name?” you ask. Well for a few reasons. First off, this is a new endeavor, not to be saddled with the preconceptions of authorship and ego of previous works. Secondly, I fear most of my marketing conversations were attempts to explain what TOIstudio meant, and how to spell or say it. The new firm is based upon an overriding value of clarity and honesty and the new name should represent that.

May I introduce, for your architectural pleasure, a joint effort by TOIstudio and FIELDS collaborative, the new design centric boutique firm “Architecture Office”. Now if anyone asks us what we do after introductions, it should be ridiculously easier.You can find the new website at TOIstudio will be refocusing efforts back to what is used to be about, primarily nerd art stuff with the lessened snark that comes primarily with age (like a fine whine).

So TOIstudio will still be doing something, probably more of an outlet for collaborations still ongoing that will possibly be going on for a while but more architectural projects will be under the new umbrella which will focus more on acting like an architecture firm.


Roadtrip! – Knowlton School Architecture Fall 2015 Lecture Series

I will never answer the “O-H” chant with “I-O”. I went to a different state university and while I enjoy visiting Columbus, I don’t think I could actually ever live there. Different strokes for different folks I guess. I feel bad for any landlocked city actually.

So the topic of this year’s Baumer Lecture Series is “Energies“. The Knowlton School of Architecture at THE Ohio State University (whatever) has historically been pretty dang decent and this year looks to be no exception, even if they do refer to “Fall” as “Autumn”.

Baumer Lecture Series

Metaphorical energies power architectural discourse just as literal energy powers buildings, cities and landscapes. The autumn 2015 Baumer lecture series aims to address both the metaphorical and literal understanding of energies. The series brings together architects, landscape architects, planners while adding to this typical cast of characters an artist, a physician and an engineer. All of these speakers play significant roles in developing visions for the contemporary world. Metaphorically they will bring new enthusiasms, new energies, to debates and discussions around the Knowlton School.

This autumn’s Baumer series also addresses energies in a literal way. While the ubiquity and invisibility of energy risks making it ordinary, the speakers this fall will make the relationship of energy and design specific; they will demonstrate its richness and render it vital. They will show us more than how energy is relevant to design, but how design is relevant to energy.

All lectures are free and open to the public. Unless noted, lectures begin at 5:30 p.m in the Gui Auditorium (Knowlton Hall 250).


September 16, 2015
Gui Auditorium / Knowlton Hall
September 23, 2015
Gui Auditorium / Knowlton Hall
September 30, 2015
Gui Auditorium / Knowlton Hall
October 7, 2015
Gui Auditorium / Knowlton Hall
October 12, 2015
Big Stairs / Knowlton Hall
October 21, 2015
Gui Auditorium / Knowlton Hall
October 28, 2015
Gui Auditorium / Knowlton Hall
November 4, 2015
Gui Auditorium / Knowlton Hall
November 18, 2015
Gui Auditorium / Knowlton Hall
December 2, 2015
Gui Auditorium / Knowlton Hall

RoadTrip! – Carnegie Mellon University Fall 2015 Architecture Lecture Series

Ah, Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture. Just a quick trip from Cleveland to the land where smoking in bars is legal but you can’t buy beer at a grocery store. I always enjoy going to Carnegie Mellon. They have a beautiful campus that is much easier and less stressful to navigate (or find your spouse in) than the “local” Ikea. No poster this year (I guess) but a handy list instead with links and info.

Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture

Our lecture series, symposia and festivals animate the school by welcoming unique perspectives, emerging thinkers, and practitioners across disciplines.

Lectures expose students to the bleeding edge of innovation in the profession, but exposure isn’t the final frontier: many of our visiting lecturers spend the afternoon in studio or join reviews, further energizing the SoA’s culture of inquiry and collaboration.

Except where noted, all lectures are free and open to the public.

FALL 2015 Lecture Series

José Oubrerie

Architecture with and without Le Corbusier
M September 21  |  6:30pm  |  Kresge Theatre

Marco Poletto

Urbansphere vs Biosphere
M October 5  |  6:30pm  |  Kresge Theatre

Peter Calthorpe

Global Sprawl: Types and Antidotes
M October 12  |  6:30pm  |  Kresge Theatre

Mark Pasnik

Form and Format
M October 26  |  6:30pm  |  Carnegie Museum of Art Theater

Neil Denari

Persuasion as Explanation
M November 2  |  6:30pm  |  Kresge Theatre

Christina Ciardullo

The Overview Effect: A Brief History of Time, Space and Architecture
M November 9  |  6:30pm  |  Kresge Theatre

Pierre Bélanger

M November 16  |  6:30pm  |  Kresge Theatre

CUDC (Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative) Fall Lecture Series 2015

Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative 2015 Fall Lecture Series

As if you needed an excuse to head downtown and grab lunch on a Friday instead of eating from your desk and getting horseradish mayo all over your mouse. C’mon, that’s gross. Get that stuff on the CUDC’s conference table instead. Get there early to grab a good seat as the place fills up with those young people (ugh, students) and you’ll want room to rest your sammich.

All lectures will be held from 12pm – 1pm at the CUDC (unless otherwise noted).

1309 Euclid Ave., Suite 200
Cleveland, Ohio 44115

  • September 10 – John Cerone, Honing Digital Design & Delivery, 6 PM
  • September 25 – McLain Clutter, GIS Workshop: Fake Places and Data Shapes on Cleveland’s Opportunity Corridor, 10 AM – 5 PM
  • September 28 – McLain Clutter, Master of None, 6 PM
  • October 1 – Virginia Burt, Travelling through the Transect: Concept to Completion, 6 PM
  • October 2 – Matthew Feinberg, Re-Making Madrid
  • October 7 – Miguel Coyula, Havana: Past Present & Future (pending US Visa approval), 5 PM
  • October 9 – John Williams, Small Gestures with Large Impact
  • October 16 – MUD Research Symposium
  • October 21 – Mark Linder, American City 2.5 (Gallery Talk & Exhibition)
  • October 30 – Ellen Sullivan, Through a Glass Darkly: The Mirror Device in Town Planning Strategy of Patrick Geddes
  • November 6 – Bill Willoughby, Changing Places: Affect, Activism, & Urban Refitting
  • November 13 – Emad Khazaraee, Mapping the Digital Divide
  • November 20 – ULI Competition, Strategy Session
  • December 4 – Jen Mapes, Lessons for Sustainability from Small Towns
  • December 11 – Nicholas Rajkovich, Designing the Resilient City



RoadTrip! – Taubman College Fall Lecture Series

It’s that time of year again. The house and streets quiet down as the kids are off to school to get some learning on. This also means another season of good ol’ lecturing not too far from the home base of Cleveland, Ohio. (I was going to start with Kent’s lectures but had to send them an email about getting them as a list instead of just a poster. You can’t text search a poster. Well you can, but I’m not running an OCR for folks who had the list to even make the poster).

I will say this. I am not of fan of Taubman’s new webpage. I understand the OMA/Instagram look is so hawt right now, but I prefer function over hawtness, especially when it comes to web interface. Call me old fashion, but when I’m looking for something, I like to find it easily, not mount a full fledged search and rescue involving hours of manpower, 2 helicopters and someone quoting Tommy Lee Jones “doghouse, henhouse, whorehouse” speech from the fugitive. At least the contents are still found with the 3 little lines in the upper left corner. Why the meat of the site has to be hidden away, I don’t really know. Their lecture list though, with links leading to more information on the speakers? They got that down pat. I LOVE that.

All lectures are free and open to the public, unless noted. All lectures will be held in the Art + Architecture Auditorium, 6:00 PM unless otherwise noted.

A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
University of Michigan
2000 Bonisteel Boulevard
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2069 USA

September, 2015

October, 2015

November, 2015

February, 2016

List of Online Lectures via Archdaily

One of the many things many architects and designers enjoy is exploring the theory and craft that result in interesting projects. A good lecture is much more than a series of slides of projects while being told what we are looking at. The lecture should explore how rigor, process and constraints result in the design solution being presented as the best solution available. We can go online to various websites if we just want to see images. I don’t need the lecturer to tell me that yes, they made a sliding door for a certain opening, I can tell from the photo. I want to know why. I want a juicy explanation for the specific design moves that are being illustrated. Without that, well, it feels like I am being sold something that the salesperson doesn’t truly understand.

Archdaily has put together a fine list of free online lectures (I have posted about some lectures before) for designers to take advantage of. I have an affinity for good lectures. I find they get the design juices flowing and invigorate my own sensibilities. At best they offer insight into looking at a problem in a new and exciting way. Granted a lot of these lectures are video lectures, meaning you probably cannot stream them at your workstation while cleaning up Construction Documents or picking up redlines (two tasks that can usually benefit from creative stimulation), but a good lecture doesn’t rely as heavily on visual imagery as much as story telling. The excitement of the speaker should be palpable and the story should be engaging and informative.

At the very least, this is some good stuff to watch during a rainy evening (we have had a glut of those lately in the MidWest) or during the winter lull, which unfortunately is coming. Winter is always coming.

Efficient Living, Not Small in Spirit

There has been a litany of small house design permeating the media lately. These articles are typically forwarded to me by friends, family and clients with the premise of how wonderful it would be to live simply and without so much stuff and how impossible it would be to actually undertake. Personally, I am a huge fan of efficient (see, I’m avoiding the word “small”) living spaces.

For quite a while our society has adopted the bigger is better mantra while still expecting costs to be minimized. Somehow larger equates to better value when typically bigger is just, well, bigger. A well designed home will counter the need for “space” by being more efficient in layout and smarter in use. I can’t list the times I have been in newer homes that have unusable left over space in the form of over-sized (and seemingly empty) master bedrooms and bathrooms yet still lack requisite storage space. Model homes can be a prime example. The ease at which extra (or bonus) rooms can be added belies the fact that these spaces are inefficient and add little to the home but square footage. This square footage adds not only to operational costs (heating, cooling and lighting) of the home but also adds space to clean and accumulate more underused “stuff”.

An efficient and well designed home will minimize underused space but will not sacrifice comfort, storage or privacy. When we talk about custom homes, we mean homes in which the future owner and architect  work together to discover a solution that meets (I like to imagine exceeds) the expectations of the future owner in a thoughtful manner. This translates to uncovering what a client really means when they mention a desire. “Space” may actually mean the need for proper storage instead of larger rooms or understanding how the family plans to grow. Rooms can also be designed around specific furniture or using smart space planning to attempt to future-proof these space. Working with an architect allows for the home layout to work closely with the exterior using these spaces as an extension of the living quarters. Conversations about utilities and maintenance can direct orientation, layout, insulation, window/door placement and even finishes.

Hyper-efficient or small homes work to fill the growing need of urban infill. These smaller structures can fit on smaller lots, offer cheaper alternatives to home ownership, react to national trends in shrinking/postponed families, increase neighborhood density and respond to lifestyle choices for those who treat their city/neighborhood as their living room. As an added bonus, these homes can be cheaper overall than larger homes, although at a typical higher cost per square foot. Some of the most obvious tricks to efficient homes is the use of flexible space as well as using built in storage to minimize the need for furniture.

A slightly recent conversation with a potential client regarding efficient living led to the attached study. A 400 sf home is designed for a single adult using the living area with a Murphy bed as the primary live/sleep areas. An open kitchen allows for the main portions of the house to function in a single larger room. Storage and restrooms have more lofted storage/mechanical area to the rear of the home.plans-option01b

As the client meets someone and starts to build a family, an addition to the house, which was designed in concert with the primary structure, can be constructed. This calls for the need of some future planning for mechanical, plumbing and electrical layout, but if dealt with during the preliminary design phase, it will me much easier and less expensive to implement than retrofitting a structure that isn’t prepared. Granted, the study plans shown here are very preliminary and use traditional residential thinking but these were just starting sketches from which to tweak based upon client conversation but the idea of planning ahead for future expansion is still relevant and I believe the most important. These home additions allow the neighborhood to grow, naturally, with the needs of the property owner and may result in more varied housing stocks within a communityplans-option01b2

There are a wide variety of options available for building new homes, especially in an urban environment. Meeting with a good architect can help you decide what you want, what you need and how to achieve those goals within your budget.

Carnegie Mellon School of Architecture Spring 2015 Lecture Series

I always forget that Carnegie Mellon’s School of Architecture is a quickish 2 hour and change drive from Cleveland so it easily falls within the “road trip” radius for lectures to attend if you are looking for something to do during a pleasant evening.

They also do a pretty decent job of posting their lecture series, with plenty of information about the presenters. No poster yet, as soon as one surfaces I will update this post because pictures are pretty.

Assistant Professor of Architectural Technology, Harvard University Graduate School of Design
‘Developing Design Environments’
M 09 Feb | 6:30PM | Kresge Theatre
Alan H Rider Distinguished Lecture

Wiel Arets Architects, Amsterdam, Maastricht, Zurich
Dean, IIT College of Architecture
M 23 Feb | 6:30PM | Kresge Theatre
Alan H Rider Distinguished Lecture

Bernard Tschumi Architects, New York, Paris
Professor, Columbia University
‘Concept and Notation’
F 27 Feb | 5:30PM | Carnegie Lecture Hall
Alan H Rider Distinguished Lecture | Cosponsored by the Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museum of Art

Emmanuelle Moureaux Architecture + Design, Tokyo
Th 19 Mar | 6:30PM | Kresge Theatre
Exhibition opening precedes the lecture at 5:30 in the CFA Great Hall
Presented as part of the wats:ON? Festival Across the Arts

Lorcan O’Herlihy Architects, Los Angeles
‘Drawing, Process, and Design’
M 30 Mar | 6:30PM | Carnegie Music Hall
Drawing workshop with Mr. O’Herlihy immediately follows the lecture
Cosponsored by the Heinz Architectural Center at Carnegie Museum of Art | Reception sponsored by Epic Metals

George N Pauly, Jr Fellow
‘Design Interface : Interface Design’
M 06 Apr | 6:30PM | Giant Eagle Auditorium (Baker Hall A51)
Henry Hornbostel Lecture

Copenhagen designs neighborhood based upon projected climate change

It makes no difference if one believes climate change to be anthropomorphic or not during the discussion of creating strategies for human adaptation of current projections. One does simply not leave a burning building because a human did not set it on fire. While it would be wisest to deal with the cause instead of the effects, being smarter about how our design impacts the environment and vice versa should be embodied in any major planning or architectural proposal. The anecdotal evidence alone of communities becoming flooded as new development results in impervious surfaces and massive runoff points, at the very least, to the fact that we need to think beyond our property lines and develop some understanding of the impact of a new built environment upon existing natural systems or even existing infrastructure.

The issue of climate change is a very real and very important problem to be added to the designer/planners list of responsibilities. There is an inferred expectation of longevity and this requires more thoughtful exploration by the designers to determine what that potentially means to the project and its context as a whole. In this case I mean longevity not only from a use standpoint, but also meaning operational and maintenance practices and costs.

We have seem some rather interesting project ideas derive from these questions such as Rise:NYC and rebuild by design, both spurred on by the affects of Superstorm Sandy and initially using New York City as the canvas for dealing with rising sea levels as well as a resounding handful of other projects too numerous to begin listing.

copenhagen climate change
A visualization of the center square of St. Kjeld. The section of Copenhagen is the first neighborhood in the world to use vegetation and water to prepare for rising sea levels and other consequences of climate change.Tredje Natur *image borrowed from relevant Aljazeera article

Some regions are already actively constructing in order to deal with these issues such as the Danish capital of Copenhagen whose St. Kjeld neighborhood is being considered the “…first climate-change adapted neighborhood“. The article linked to does a much better job of explaining what is going on than I could by trying reframe it, but in a nutshell Tredje Natur (the Danish architecture firm spearheading the project) with the support of groups such as Sustainia (a Copehagen-based sustainability group) advocated the replacement of public impermeable space with green lawns and basins crossed with walking paths and the implementation of “cloudburst” boulevards, which are streets specially designed to act as water channels during a storm event to move water to the harbor. The over-reaching idea is to transform Copenhagen into a city resilient climate change induced storm events and potentially raising sea levels.

Source: Al Jazeera America

Taubman College 2015 Spring Lecture Series

Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning of University of Michigan

has revamped their lecture website and I cannot tell if I like or love it. First off, the information (while not the easiest to find from the Taubman page with all the mouse-over dropdowns) is nested as a series of links with the important stuff being shown in list form. Each lecture link offers some info on the speaker, images, and links to more information. Fantastic. There are quite a few other schools that should learn from this techniques, it makes searching for info online so much easier. /rant

All lectures are free and open to the public, unless noted. All lectures will be held in the Art + Architecture Auditorium, 6:00 PM unless otherwise noted.